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My Escape To Reality.


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Google this....."Incredible footage of Nerriga fire drive".....It was footage of a local making a dash for the pub as the fire approached. Seems to be everywhere on the net but be buggered if I can work out how to link to it on the forum now. Probably me, can't really think straight ATM.
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@Autosteve my thoughts and prayers are with you mate. Been following your journey through this thread from the begining. As you mentioned I hope all the diligent and hard work you have done over the years fire proofing your property help to pay off. Will be keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best for you. Keep us up to date.
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RFS fire map shows the fire has spread into our neighbours behind our farm now. They redraw the map showing it has not come along the road as far as they previously had marked earlier today. I suppose that is a blessing because now the fire is about 4-5kms behind rather than previously having it 1km to the east. It shows it is now 3-4kms to the east and a our farm and a half behind. Still pretty inhospitable land to try and fight a fire. Just praying there map is accurate and there are no southerly winds.



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Went down for a "fire prepare" visit last night. Got in at 11pm, got through the road closed checkpoint, saw the neighbour and then went ballistic prepping the house that is still looking fine by the way. Boarded all the windows up with colourbond fence sheeting so no fire getting in through the windows if they break. Moved anything that can burn away for the house, blew any leaves away, moved all outdoor furniture out into the cleared paddock.

Sealed up the garage with metal sheet, put 600 X 600 ceramic tiles up against the shipping container doors to stop the rubber seals from burning and up against the bottom of the doors of the house so no fire getting under the doors. Got up on the roof and cleared all the gutters and removed anything that could possibly burn off the roof. Inside the house moved everything to the center away from the internal walls so if it does catch fire inside, the fire has to travel over the bare floor 2 meters before any major fire can start including the BP.

House is fully prepared now and should withstand any fire other than a direct assault from the head of the fire, ( nothing can withstand that I have been told)

Got out all the major tools, fuel cans and chainsaws, all the stuff that gets looted. Got some pictures I'll post later.

Got out of there 4am this morning very happy with what we got done so quickly. Didn't see any fire, not even the glow in the sky but the wind was still and all it takes is a good wind and it's alive again. Got back at 6.30am this morning to a much relieved wife.I've done everything I can for this house to help protect it and the fireys had visited the site earlier that day and said to the neighbour because it has been cleared around the house, well worth trying to defend. looks like all that burning and clearing wasn't in vain I have been doing over the last couple of years. If it stays up, more clearing next year. Fingers crossed but at least now I know in myself there was nothing more I could do and if it burns, so be it.

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1893 the school house was made. School closed in 1993 but it and the houses around become part of the museum until a couple of days ago....






Edited by Autosteve
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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, spoke to the neighbour and found him and I were very lucky, again. 2nd time in 20 years he was saying our properties didn't burn. I decide to celebrate the farm not being burnt to the ground by making another project for the farmhouse. It's an inside and outside temperature gauge set.

Already got one but it had it's shortfalls. It was 3 X AA battery powered with 2 other AA batteries in the outside temperature transmitter and that part constantly needed resetting. Needed light on the LCD screens to read them at night so I made this thing. Powered off the house batteries so 12vDC goes into it and it has an inverter inside to convert the 12vDc down to 5vDC that the gauges run off.

The thing basically runs off the smell of an oily rag power wise but when I turn the house power off when I leave, they power down as well.


Nothing special except it's simplicity and simplicity continues to work reliably I find. No outside transmitter, this one just has long wires going to a probe for the outside temperature. Inside gauge has short wires. No batteries and the gauges are backlit so you can see them at night.


Should work fine and adds to the game we play. In the winter when it is often 0c or below outside, We take turns who's turn it is to look after the woodfires each night and the game is to see who can heat the house internally the highest each night. You can cheat by using pine or wattle in the mix as these make more heat than the gums we burn but making the fire solely from either is not allowed as you can crack the woodfire fireboxes using to much of the woods.





Should do the job and looks pretty cool. Cost under 16 bucks to make which was about 1/3 the cost of the previous one that gave no end of troubles and it does look much nicer. Just gotta wire it in when I get back down again.

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  • 1 month later...

Got down the farm last weekend with the wife first time since the fire was about 4kms south and my mate and I prepped the house for fire one night. I'll be going back down over this weekend but here's an update from last week.Drove up the hill to see how bad my mate's property got burnt. Fire went right over his house literally. Five of his neighbours weren't so lucky. This was on the drive to his house on the top of the mountain. Total desolation and it goes to the coast 50kms away, south 40kms and north 15kms...







This is around his house....








Fortunately his peacock survived. Yes it's his and it comes when you call it. The birds got balls too. It stood up to our kelpie, Tess. She didn't know what to make of it and the pair of them stood two meters apart and just eyed each other.






Back to our farm. Green as I've seen it for two years. Hard to imagine it could now be looking like those pictures at the top of the hill...We didn't escape completely








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  • 1 month later...

Two days away to try and put a big dent in this bridge project.

Been on going for over 18 months probably 2 years now. Start of the weekend with all the logs I dragged here on my last visit.... Bridge progress to date



Bridge progress to date




Two new logs down, about 15 to go....




Every log gets cutouts chainsawed out so it sits on the flat of the beam...





Preping the lead in roadway to the bridge. Never had a vehicle in this gully before. Soon will have though.




17 logs later and ready to try it out for the first time.




Back half of the bridge still needs the slabs to be cut and fixed to the bridge deck to form the (smoother roadway), but the bridge is usable. Another farm major milestone. We had a bit of a think and seem to agree this bridge has taken two guys about 30 hours of labor time to build. It has had at least 3 floods over the deck and the water high marks indicate the bridge deck goes about 1 meter under water when the creek flash floods.

This consideration went a long way into the bridge's design from day one when I realised an above flood height bridge was not going to happen. The design was build it so big and heavy, it can't float away.

Just to give you some idea of the bridge's weight, each of the 17 logs I attached to form the cross beams done on this vist weigh between 100-160kgs a piece. No wonder I feel dead today. Not finished but the end is very much in sight.























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  • 4 weeks later...

Arrived this week and quickly checked the new "dual thermometer" I made a couple of weeks back.

Top one is inside temperature, lower is outside temperature....Yep, 2c outside and 12c inside:o

Leave a house door open for about an hour and it will be 2c inside as well. Time to light up a woodfire heater or two I think. Hmmm, appears winter is coming..:blink:



Mainly went down to split some firewood up for the place to last through till the warmer months but also to chop up some of the trees we quickly dropped for the bridge extension that were still laying all over the place.

Trying a different approach this year. Normally we would cut up the tree and give it a couple of months to dry out a bit and burn it but trying something different this year, As the heads of the trees, the eucalyptus leaves and small branches are already dry, we put that on the bottom of the fire and stacked the still wet larger branches on top. Lit that up and the idea is the fast hot fire the leaves give off while it won't burn or last long enough to dry the larger branches and burn them now, it will go a long way to making sure they are totally dry in under 3 months when they will be reburnt. A bit like kilm drying the wood you buy.

That's the thinking anyway because some fresh cut trees can take up to two seasons to clean them up and hopefully this will illiminate that time by a half.




This is one of the close to twenty such fires we lit up to try this "quick drying" approach. Next time I'm down I'll run the chainsaw through the long lengths and stack them on ready to burn in a month or two might even be three depending on how long this year I can burn till but at the moment it is looking like the last week of September. One thing I was glad to see was the amount of people burning already on the way down the farm. Looks like a lot of people got a big wake up what the Aussie bush is capable of last year.




This little patch of crap has been a mess for years. It was where two wire fences come together and I removed most of the wire and star pickets a couple of years ago but there was still wire in there but it was covered in massive tea tree plants. I got the "light saver" to them and they got burnt.

This is a "light saver". We named it after the Starwars weapon because that is the noise it makes when you hit tea tree with this tool. Definately my favourite farm tool I have for cutting scrub. It's the only one I have used that actually works well. Sorry to disagree with the YouTube guy but I go through 3 blades a year but tea tree is a hell of a lot harder than elders he uses his tool on and I also us it on small gums, wattle and blackberry. By far the hardest is tea tree though. Some grow about 100mm in diameter at the ground and when they are that old, they get very hard. Biggest problem is when cut, when they are around 10mm in diameter, the bit still in the ground can go straight through the sole of your work boots if you tread on them so they equally go straight through a tire as well. We try to cut them flush to the ground but when your cutting a small forest of them, you do miss some so we try to burn over such patches or run the tool back over after the area has been raked so you can see the ones you missed. This is a "light saver".

I have fields of tea tree all over the property. The CSIRO recommend planting tea tree so unused fields don't get covered in blackberry or the other nasties Australia has to offer but it is still a pig to clear or manage when the time is right. Fire does a pretty good job but you have to lay it down or the fire simply burns the leaves off it and it comes back stronger and thicker. Even cutting it back flush has it grow back but if you hit it three years running with the ride on mower, it doesn't come back. I have quite a few acres in this stage now and a few past that are fields of native grass now. That is what the intended end result is with gun trees spread far enough apart to prevent the fire hazzard.

Back to the patch of crap. Got the wire out an torched the rest....




The patch got burnt back leaving nothing but the gum trees. I'll run the light saver back through it to clear any crap them put the rideon mower over it and it is another patch I have to maintain for the next couple of years before it is replaced with native grass. Thing is then native grass doesn't need to be planted, it is everywhere but it won't grow if it is under gun bark, gum leaves or tea tree.

Got another patch of tea trees to clear this year right near the bridge. It's about 5 acres in size and some of the tea tree is about 7 meters tall, trunk diameter up to 200mm. I did start poisoning it about 7 years ago but found that kills the native grass as well so back to manual methods I'm afraid. I want to try the tractor, now I can get over the creek with the bridge we built, with the blade about 20mm off the ground and see if it can rip the whole plant including the root ball out and then simply burn the whole plant in a 44 gallon drum. I know the stuff doesn't burn to nothing while standing in the open but hopeing the fire will be that intense it will burn it all to dust.

Be starting that operation in a month or two.

There is one more major tea tree site right at the back of the property but I can't get the tractor there till I make a new pass up the side of one of the mountains. The track is the one we use to get to the back of the property but there's no way known to man I'm driving that tractor on such an sideways angle. It's dodgy on a quad threatening rolling off the mountain let alone a tractor.

May get to that new pass this year. Would be good to get it done because then you can drive all the way to the back of the property in any vehicle now the bridge is done. Neighbour says he can get his excavator in on that job which would be idea but that costs I'm afraid. We'll see how that goes. Until next time, stay safe.




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Is tea tree something you can use when picked or is it something that needs to be processed?


Sent from my AGM A8 using Tapatalk



You crush it. It is used in Detol as an antiseptic but has a heap of other purposes other than just burning it like I do. Either way, it still needs to go. At the moment the property is suitable for 6 sheep per acre. If I can get that up around 20, the resale price should the farm be sold will go up accordingly.

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  • 2 months later...

Just getting ready for our yearly burn off. It got delayed this year from last week to this week, wife's kemo treatment. Probably for the good with the rains or should I say flooding.

This is the new, (5 year old), Shoalhaven River bridge just down from the farm built to be above all but that 1 in 100 year flood. Hmmm, looks like that one year just happened aye.:blink:




And today after the water went down behind the high level mark predicted today at 2PM showing the trees and crap that got caught.



Sweet, new bridge should be fine to use in a weeks time. Hmmm, wrong. Seems the trees didn't exactly leave the bridge unscaved. Can't say I'm real surprised. I've seen trees and I do mean massive full sized gum trees roots and all come down this river in full flood before and they are moving. I can only imagine one of those slamming into the bridge.





And this is the creek that goes along the back of our farm that is feed by our creek that we were building our bridge across. I suspect our bridge floated over this bridge at some stage and is probably at Nowra now.



This was our bridge remember. Just about finished and would have been after next week. It WAS there two weekends ago when I went down for the day for firewood but I somehow aren't expecting it there next week. I did design it to be so heavy it wouldn't float away but hell, I didn't expect flooding like this. It to was built for that 1 in 1000 myear flood is my excuse.


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Well looks like you may need to reconstruct your bridge or should I say raft 😅😅😅


Raft is exactly what I'm thinking myself although we did attach it to the bank but the banks are a mix of slate and quartz so they may have failed with probably 2 meters of storm water going over the bridge.

Already discussed what to do if it is gone, concrete slab straight on the bedrock of the creekbed. Going to be an arse if that is the case because no concrete mixer can get there so it would be all concrete used would be made up by bags and probably need about 40 bags.

May need to organise an AA work bee that weekend.:D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well our bridge survived. Seems it just got a wash as the water passed 1.5 meters over it in full flood.




Can't really say how happy I am that thing didn't end up in the Pacific Ocean somewhere.


Anyway, our annual burnoff week for the farm is over. This time every year I head down with a mate and we do many things around the farm but the main reason is to do the necessary control burning getting the place ready for the upcoming summer bushfire season. Didn't exactly go to plan this year after 180mm of rain a week before we went down didn't help and many fires simply wouldn't burn. It didn't help either when it rained every day at least once or twice but as always, there is more to do around the farm.


A typical day would have a part of the day like this..


An hour or two later and..




Now, back to the bridge. While it looks untouched, the approach to get onto it that comes down the gully wasn't.


I was always rather concerned about this bridge approach becoming a swamp in heavy rain after all, it is a water course. It just doesn't have water in it for most of the year. Three weeks ago we were riding quads over this bridge including the approaches but this week my quad sunk in it so more bridge I think or order in about 10 tonne of road base that I simply can't get here except by quad trailor one load at a time with the truckload being dropped near the house, as far as a dump truck can get.

We went with the longer bridge idea. Here's some logs dragged in before man handling them in place..



The quad is bogged right there. That is as far as I could get it. Right where they are going to go abouts but now a bogged quad. Lift it out and turn aroundready for another trip to grab logs...



Log strapped on the quad log trailor ready to drag. Fortunately it is all downhill from this location to the bridge site. This is exactly how all the logs that make up the bridge got there only in the dry, I could go up and down hills not just downhill after so much rain.





Getting the main beams for the 2nd extension of this bridge in place. Idea is this extension goes over the water. There is another entension to go from the end of this one to the bank so the gully doesn't get driven through at all.



Cutting more slabs for the bridge roadway...



Setting the Alaskian Mill to the right depth for the slabs we are after....



Didn't get to do much more done on the bridge because we were only getting an hour of two between rain showers so this track, it's the main one most people ride the quads on being close to the house and all flat land but five fully grown pine trees were pushed over to make the fire containment line during last summer's bushfire. Fortunately it was the 2nd containment line and the fires never jumped the first containment line to make it to this 2nd line. It stopped at the first 5kms south and stayed there for the 87 days this bushfire ended up burning for.

These trees are still there blocking our track so they needed to be cut up and moved...




A bit more track clearing. This track is at the other end of the farm 3kms away from the house. It's excellent to ride the quads and buggys here at anytime but at night with only the machine's lighting to light the way is something special except when it sub zero I guess.




Still, the track was becoming grossly overgrown and close to unusable so in between rain showers, we cleared some of it.




More to do but ended up widening it back out for about 100 meters with about 150 meters to go to the back creek. The track was so overgrown, trees were hitting your face and hands and required stopping to get around sections of it and this scrub is full of wild pigs so best to see them and the track you need to go along.


And for those interested in how the RPi worked and fit in the media center, perfectly. It fit exactly as designed. It is the lower unpainted section..





I'm glad because we watched a far bit on it while it rained as well as played the Black Pyramid. Actually took the time to give the BP a clean and inspection. I was real interested in seeing how the modified, ( slightly larger holes), Gottlieb bakilite slingshot links were handling there new use, (about two years ago), as the Bally flipper links. Seems they do the job better than the original Bally links with no elongated holes and no slack even though the BP gets a lot of backflipping to get the lanes.


Well that's it done and dusted. Our week long annual fire burning farm visit. Didn't get all I wanted to do as always but if your impatiant, don't ever buy a farm. It really is the biggest project I have ever undertaken and you learn real quickly, a farm is a job you will never finish so all you can do is chip away and be happy with what you do get done.


Hope you all enjoyed.





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